Spring into safety on the farm

Posted on Feb 23 2024 in Safety
Farm scene

It’s planting season for many of Indiana’s roughly 94,000 farmers. While you prepare to plant the crops that keep the world fed, Indiana Electric Cooperatives reminds you to keep electrical safety in mind.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 62 farm workers are electrocuted each year in the U.S. “Farm worker deaths and injuries can be prevented by practicing some simple electrical safety measures around farm,” said Jon Elkins, vice president of safety, training and compliance at Indiana Electric Cooperatives.

Here are safety tips for farmers to keep in mind this season:

Make sure farm equipment like planter arms and sprayers safely clear overhead power lines. Tall equipment can easily become entangled in power lines and pose an electrocution risk. Keep a minimum of 10-foot distance from power lines in all directions. 

Consider asking your electric cooperative to move overhead lines around buildings or frequently used pathways. If you’re planning any new construction, consult your cooperative for information on minimum clearances and the location of overhead lines.

Keep a safe distance from power poles and guy wires when working the land or planting crops. If your equipment strikes and damages a guy wire or power pole, do not try to fix it yourself. Call your electric cooperative immediately.

If your farm equipment becomes entangled with power lines, call 911, keep others away and stay calm. If you must exit the equipment for life-threatening reasons, exit by jumping away, landing with feet together, then shuffle three tractor lengths away with feet together. Never re-enter or touch equipment in contact with a power line. Avoid touching anyone who had electrical contact.

If you are planning a controlled burn, mow and remove vegetation at least 15 feet around any pole prior to burning. Apply fire retardant to the area as recommended by the manufacturer prior to burn period. Do not directly spray or treat a pole. Should a burn get out of control and endanger poles or other equipment, call 911 immediately.

Prevent fires from passing under power lines, as smoke contains carbon particles that conduct electricity. High smoke concentration near lines can cause an electrical discharge from the line to the ground, posing risks to firefighters. When using water hoses near power lines, extreme care must be taken to avoid contact, as water conducts electricity, turning the stream into a conductor.